The Doctoral Program



Dear Prospective Doctoral Student:

Welcome. At MSU, we are deeply committed to training the next generation of human resource and labor relations scholars. Our doctoral program is a key part of our mission to be a global leader in the creation, teaching, and dissemination of knowledge about managing human resources, work, and the employment relationship.

As described more fully herein, as a doctoral student in our program you will:

  • engage in multidisciplinary analyses of complex HRM and labor relations issues
  • be part of a vibrant culture of community and teamwork among faculty and students conducting meaningful, cutting-edge research
  • be closely mentored by highly talented faculty members that match your research interests
  • receive full funding that covers tuition, health insurance, an annual stipend, and research support for up to 5 years

After reviewing our program and application procedures, please feel free to contact me or other faculty with any questions you might have.

Dr. Angela Hall

Dr. Angela Hall, JD, PhD
Doctoral Program Committee Chair
Associate Professor, School of Human Resources & Labor Relations

School of Human Resources & Labor Relations
South Kedzie Hall
368 Farm Lane, Room S415
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 432-3446


Program Overview

Photo: Program Overview

Our Focus on Research & Scholarship

As a doctoral student in our program, you will engage in multidisciplinary analyses of complex HR and labor relations issues, learning to:

  • integrate theoretical foundations across disciplines in novel ways
  • employ the full range of scientific methodologies, statistical methods and research designs in testing new theoretical contributions
  • conduct research spanning local to global inquiries, ranging from micro-level individual and organizational analyses to macro-level organizational and policy analyses
  • analyze the broader environmental contexts of organizations and the multi-level behaviors and decision-making of multiple stakeholders and actors
  • evaluate the effects of alternative strategies, policies and practices on behavior and real-world outcomes


Our Vibrant Scholarly Culture

Towards fostering an environment in which our doctoral students are able to maximize their potential and enjoy outstanding placement opportunities upon graduation, we are dedicated to ensuring that you:

  • engage in our strong culture of community and teamwork among faculty and students conducting cutting-edge research relevant to understanding complex issues
  • obtain individual advising and mentoring by faculty matched with your scholarly interests
  • receive early intensive research and publishing experience working closely with our talented faculty
  • participate in our research luncheon series hosting top scholars
  • have access to PhD seminars and faculty across top-rated MSU programs in I-O psychology, management and economics
  • gain access to organizations and data through our School’s highly engaged and distinguished Advisory Board and strong alumni network
  • become part of the wider community of scholars in our field by participating in major conferences, workshops and associations


Graduate Assistantships Provide Full Funding for 5 Years

As research assistants, students work directly with faculty members on research projects. The assignment of students to faculty is based on student requests to work with individual faculty and a student's primary research interests.

Doctoral students making good progress receive full stipends and attractive health insurance coverage up to 5 years. All tuition and fees are also covered whether you are an in-state, out-of-state, or international student.

In addition, to promote success, students receive funding to cover the costs of data collections and attending conferences to present their research. Additional compensation may be received by obtaining competitive scholarships and teaching courses after completing required coursework and exams.


Our PhD Supervising Faculty

Central to any doctoral student's growth and success as a scholar is the opportunity to work closely with talented faculty conducting and publishing meaningful, cutting-edge research. With our recent wave of top junior faculty joining our School's highly recognized senior faculty, you will enjoy a wealth of opportunities to match your primary research interests with those of our diverse faculty.

Learn More About All Our Faculty


Prospective Students

Photo: Prospective Students

What kind of students are we seeking?
Who will flourish in our program?

Are you seeking a career that offers you lifelong opportunities to enjoy the rewards of discovery through research? Do you want to make a difference by advancing relevant knowledge and understanding of complex issues in the classroom and beyond by helping solve real-world HR and labor relations challenges? Are you willing to make a major commitment of time and effort to enjoy a successful and rewarding academic career?

If you do, we encourage you to apply to be part of a select community of doctoral students and faculty dedicated to uncovering the intricate web of factors influencing human behavior in the workplace and the consequences of that behavior on individual, organizational and societal outcomes.

Our doctoral program fosters a vibrant scholarly culture that supports students seeking to make lasting contributions to the multidisciplinary understanding of important HR and labor relations issues. We are interested in students from a wide variety of social science disciplines including business, psychology, economics, sociology, political science, and others.

Students who are likely to flourish in our program and enjoy opportunities to become professors at top universities share the following attributes, interests and experience:

  • aptitude for scholarship, as assessed by GPAs, test scores and letters of recommendation from scholars
  • informed passion for conducting research, as gained from exposure to research and personal research experience
  • strong interest in broad multidisciplinary training in HRM and labor and employment relations
  • understanding of people and organizations
  • primary interest in conducting applied research
  • ability to communicate and write effectively
  • capacity to work independently and effectively on research teams
  • priority career goal of attaining an academic position as a scholar


Current PhD Students

Photo: Current PhD Students
Mahl Geum Choi Mahl Geum Choi

Research Areas of Interest: Prosocial Behavior, Abusive Supervision, and Effectiveness of Family-Friendly Programs
Matt Hinkel Matt Hinkel

Research Areas of Interest: My research areas of interest include labor market dynamics and regulations, particularly within the construction industry; effects of public policies on worker and firm performance; union-management relations; compensation and benefits.
Dasom Jang Dasom Jang

Research Areas of Interest: The structural influence on employee well-being; cross-cultural comparisons; gendered culture in the workplace. Specifically, paid parental leave and gender role orientation in work-family conflict; influence of technological change under industry 4.0 are my current research projects.
Jacob McCartney Jacob McCartney

Research Areas of Interest: Examining the effectiveness and adaptation of human resources practices that aim to improve both working conditions and firm performance. Sub-interests include autonomy, employee voice, team based work, sleep, work scheduling, and career progression.
Salil Sapre Salil Sapre

Research Areas of Interest: I study social movements of workers in the informal sector in India and those of Indian/South Asian unskilled immigrants in the US. My interest, from a policy perspective, is to understand how they coordinate across national borders and learn from the successes and failures of each other given the different contexts they function within.
Zhonghao Wang Zhonghao Wang

Research Areas of Interest: I am interested in transfer of training, work engagement, job performance, leadership, and strategies. Also, I would like to research on effective methods to tackle HR issues in the process of and after mergers and aquisitions.
Dongyuan Wu Dongyuan Wu

Research Areas of Interest: My research interests include: Leadership, decision making, workplace discrimination, social comparison, fmri, research methods.



Photo: Curriculum

There are four major components to our curriculum:

  1. required and elective coursework, including 4 courses from other disciplines
  2. a comprehensive examination following completion of core HRLR courses
  3. an independent research paper demonstrating scholarly competence
  4. a dissertation that offers novel theoretical and empirical contributions to our field



Achieving the following scholarly competencies is emphasized in our multidisciplinary curriculum:

  • comprehensive knowledge of the relevant HR and labor relations literatures
  • deep understanding of theory and formulation of hypotheses
  • mastery of research methodologies and statistical methods
  • capacity to independently conduct and publish research analyses


Required Courses in HRLR:

Two "Applied Research Seminars" designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of key substantive issues and broad analytical concepts within both the HR and labor relations literatures.

Two "Theory Seminars" designed to cover the prominent theoretical foundations and modeling in the literature by addressing underlying assumptions, general propositions and specific hypotheses, and inferred causal relationships within both the HR and labor relations literatures.

A "Research Methodology Seminar" designed to address the various stages of scientific inquiry and analysis applied in the social sciences, including the assessment of the literature, theory formulation, specification of empirical models, application of statistical methods, development of data measures and instruments, sampling and data collection designs, and drawing inferences from statistical results.


Elective Courses:

Three doctoral level research methods courses taken in psychology, management, economics, sociology or other approved social science discipline.

Four doctoral level courses in disciplines such as psychology, economics, management, sociology or other approved social science discipline, to demonstrate strong scholarly expertise.


Dissertation Requirement:

Following completion of all required and elective coursework, students enroll in 24 credit hours to complete our dissertation requirement. The underlying purpose of having students write dissertations is to demonstrate their capabilities to independently conduct original research that makes important contributions to the literature. To demonstrate these competencies, one’s dissertation may focus either exclusively on one selected extensive inquiry or on three distinct and less extensive inquiries. In consultation with his/her dissertation committee, a student’s choice of either alternative will depend on his/her primary topic(s) of interests and, in turn, how best to make a significant contribution to the existing literature.


PhD Handbook:

For more information, please see our PhD Handbook.

Download PhD Handbook


How To Apply

Photo: Application

Dates for Applications

We are currently accepting submissions from PhD applicants for the 2019-2020 academic year. Priority deadline is January 1, 2019 for the Fall 2019 term, but applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until full.

Your application consists of the following items:

  1. Graduate Application and Fee

    Note: Applicants who are already enrolled at MSU or were previous enrolled in an MSU graduate program should submit the "Internal Transfer" or "Readmission Application" form in place of the Graduate Application.

  2. Personal Statement

    This document should include a clear articulation of your research experience and current research interests. Please note that when you complete the online application, you will be asked to complete an "academic statement" and a "personal statement." Your statement of personal goals can be used for both the academic statement and the personal statement.

  3. Curriculum Vitae

  4. Three Letters of Recommendation

    Letters of recommendations should be submitted electronically through the online graduate application portal or in hard copy to Cheryl Mollitor at the department's address below.
    Academic references are preferred but professional recommendations will be accepted.


    You can submit your scores automatically using the appropriate codes or your scores can be submitted officially by the testing center, either electronically or in hard copy to Cheryl Mollitor.

    • GRE code: 1465
    • GMAT code: QH0-NL-08
  6. For international students: TOEFL or IELTS scores ARE MANDATORY

    You can submit your scores automatically using the appropriate codes or your scores can be submitted officially by the testing center, either electronically or in hard copy to Cheryl Mollitor.

    • TOEFL code: 87 under "Industrial…"
  7. One set of official transcripts from undergraduate and graduate degrees

    (For current or former MSU students, MSU transcripts are not needed)

  8. Writing sample is encouraged


All of the above should be submitted electronically through the student portal or mailed (if hard copy is required) to:

Cheryl Mollitor
School of Human Resources and Labor Relations
South Kedzie Hall
368 Farm Lane, Room S401
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 355-3285


Frequently Asked Questions

Photo: FAQ



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During the application process, prospective students are highly encouraged to contact our faculty for more information about the program or arrange a visit. For general inquiries or to inquire about a visit – in person or virtually – please contact: Angela Hall at Individual faculty contact information can be found using the faculty directory.

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MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer.

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School of Human Resources & Labor Relations
South Kedzie Hall
368 Farm Lane, Room S403
East Lansing, Michigan, USA 48824
Phone: 517-355-1801 | Fax: 517-355-7656